TLC #124 April 25, 2010
Dear Hearts & Gentle
I'm SORRY! It's been a very
long time between issues, I know. And if I didn't know, your nice notes would
quickly remind me. As some of you know, I have a small Income Tax preparation
business. And as fewer of you know, shortly after Christmas I received a brand
new knee to go with my brand new hip, and that kept me occupied until tax
season. My husband and I enjoyed a brief vacation after tax season, and now I am
ready to resume my life. And part of that life is TLC. I cannot promise
uninterrupted service, but I can promise to try to do better. I do appreciate
One of the consequences of a
lapse between issues is the accumulation of mail. That means this will be a very
long issue, so get yourself a cup of coffee and settle in.
First, I will tell you that
Lexington has a new mayor. Col. Jerry Brown (ret), former Superintendent/COO at
Wentworth was elected on April 6. His wife Georgia (yes, that's her real name!)
owns and operates two shops in Lexington. Both have been very active in the
community since moving here.
Second, there is local turmoil over
what to do about the Municipal Auditorium. Due to a complaint about the
Auditorium not being ADA compliant, the building has been closed for months. As
you may know, the city owns the building and the county owns the land it
rests on. If the building is removed, the property will revert to the county.
I always try to present "news" in an
objective fashion, but we have lost our railroad depot building and
our beloved Jr-Sr High School building. The building (housing the Mexican
Restaurant) that had once been raided by the "feds" during Prohibition
has burned. The Auditorium is threatened, and now we have another of our
important buildings endangered. Due to the economy and many cuts in education
financing, the Board of Education is moving to offices at the Vo-Tech complex.
That means our old post office building will be vacant.
As you will read later in this
missive, the Historical Association has made an attempt to purchase that
building to save it. Those of you who have been gone for some time may not
realize that our former library building, next to our former post office, is our
Historical Museum. A large group of very hard-working volunteers keep the museum
afloat. That organization cannot afford to pay much for the post office building
and, of course, the school board needs as much money as they can get for it.
It's just the times, Folks, it's not the city administration or anyone "out to
get" our old buildings. But it's happening. I'm fond of saying our
buildings/architecture are what distinguish us from other small towns. We have
something remarkable here, and it's my humble opinion that we should preserve
If you would like to have your
opinions published here, I'll be glad to do that. If you are asking yourself
what you can do to help, stay tuned. We'll address that later.
I hope you are not totally depressed
by the tone of this introduction, and I'll lighten up now. So much great mail
has arrived that we should get right to it.
Often all it takes is for someone to
mention a building (ahem) and memories begin to flow. One of them is
the Peckerwood Club (or Mittieville, if you prefer). Another of recent mention
is the building (now gone!) next to the railroad tracks (and Machpelah) on the
west side of 20th St., south of Poplar.
I believe it was always a grocery
store until its final days as a liquor store. We dealt with that subject in the
last issue. But here are some more comments regarding that
Frequent correspondent Wayne
Tabb said this:
The store that
everyone remembers as Bookasta's went through many hands over the years. I
believe the last business in the building was a liquor store. Before that
it was a small grocery store owned by Chick Johnson. When I was running
loose in Lexington, Johnny Stompoly's father owned it as a grocery store. I
haven't been around much over the last forty years so whatever else was there,
others can add to the ownership/operator
Jan Jiovenale '57
Tubiolo chimed in:
I too looked at the demolition
pix of the old building on 20th street and can't be sure if it's the same
building I remember, but if so, when I was in high school, it was Al's Market,
owned by Al and Ethel Stompoly. I used to stop in often when walking
home to buy one of their huge dill pickles (never was a
sweet-lover!). The location looks right...
I love to get the TLCs;
you've created such a rich memory bank for so many of us and do such an
excellent job of it. It's happy-poignant to go down that road. How
could so much time have passed when you can step right back into that memory as
if it just happened?
Thanks for the TLC. I remember when I
was 12 years old I worked for a man by the name of George Gordon who
delivered milk. I carried the bottles to the doors and picked up the empty
bottles with the money in them, Now, about the grocery store: in the late 40's
and early 50's I traded there at that store north across the tracks from Ceno's
grocery store on the west side of 20th street. It was Al Stompoly's grocery
store. At the time that I helped with the milk, the bottles had paper
Oh yes, John, we remember. If
you didn't get outside soon after the milk was delivered in the
winter, the cream (which rose to the top, like all good things in Lexington)
would freeze and lift that cap about two inches above the
Carl '56 Ghisalberti
In answer to Shirley Collobert's comment
about the market on 20th St.-After Bookasta, it was
Jackson's market. Later it was Chic Johnson's market...if my
memory serves me right.
Hmmmm....just when I think I have it straight in
my mind, more mail comes in!
Then this from Lucia Cope '59
hardly stand to drive on old 24 Highway past the
Peckerwood Club, as I miss it SO much! Mother had two
stories about the place: once when she entered, Ma Mittie, or
whoever was there at that time, said, "Oh, you just missed Harry
school, Mother lived with her aunt and uncle in Los Angeles, attending
junior college there. On the train headed West one time, and in
conversation with her seat mate, she mentioned she was from
Lexington. The response of the seat mate was, "Is that anywhere near
I was in
a high chair the first time I ate there. The second time I was
there was in the summer of 1960, when our ever-close Class of '59 had
a spontaneous gathering there, unofficially our first reunion, I
guess. One of the last times I was there, when it was packed to the
gills, there was a big group at one of those tables by the
bathrooms. Several of their people were "dressed to the 9's" in
vintage evening wear, accessorized by marvelous hats and tons of
jewelry. They were from Chicago, had heard about the Peckerwood Club
for years and had spent weeks gathering their outfits for that first
visit. Memories of the Peckerwood Club would fill scrapbooks,
highlighted mostly by the juke box and dancing. I knew it was doomed
when tables and chairs covered the dance floor.
A wonderful note arrived from Mrs.
Frank (Angel) Shelby:
Frank and I savor every word included in your letters and memories of Lexington,
MO. Frank graduated from Lexington HS, class of 1947 and has great memories of
his growing up a Shelby and having a large family in the area. Both Frank and
his brother Jim joined the US Army each with almost 30 years of active service;
Jim returned to Lexington and is still living there. When we visit, Jim, wife
Judy and Frank rehash so many stories of their family, friends and the town,
while I sit, listen and try to record.
Even though I
have no roots in Lexington, the magic of their memories helps me imagine your
Guevel wrote of the loss of another LHS grad:
I was looking at the old
class pictures and noticed in the 6th grade class in 1952, Joanne Coates.
I don't know if you are aware that she passed away last Saturday. She had
married Norman Hughes from Richmond. I don't know her graduation year but
I'm guessing 1959 since school pictures were taken in the fall, which would have
the school year of 52-53 for that group.
I got to know her when we
started square dancing with the Moose Promenaders in 1983 and we became pretty
good friends. She had been ill for quite a while before she died.
You do such a good job with this...and I know what kind of time it takes
to do something like this!
Kenny Nadler, a walking history book, finally
wrote to us:
I was interested in reading about
Mittieville. This is some of the remembering I had of
Peckerwood. My Dad, who worked for Mr. Zeysing before going into
business for himself, said that he hauled many quart and pint bottles to
Mittieville. It may have been for selling spring water or maybe something
else. I had heard that the law had raided Mittieville and took Mr. Mittie
to jail and Ma kept on selling. I don't recall having heard Mr.
Mittie's name but Mrs. Mittie's name was Bertie (Ma). She died
The Mittie's had
four children Roy, Minnie, Maggie and Evelyn. Evelyn was married to
Stanley Schaberg. Stanley was the bartender. The two sisters that
managed Mittieville were Minnie and Evelyn. The little lady that sat in
the corner was Lizzie McCordle, the Mother of Ma. Some of this
information I got from Doris Sims who worked at
I know the food was good but my
favorite was lamb fries. When I would leave Lexington to go home, if the lights
were on and the front door was locked, I would walk up the driveway and go down
the steps. When Evelyn saw me she would put on the lamb fries. A year or
so after Mittieville was closed, I was at the funeral home and the
door bell rang. There was Minnie and Evelyn with my lamb fries and green
P.S. I had heard the
name Peckerwood came from the word "poor folk" down
Once in a while I hear from someone not from
Lexington but whose interest had been stirred by stumbling upon TLC. And
Mittieville spurred that research. In this case the name is Steve
Leek from Burlington, IA. He has written a number of times, and these notes
are combined below, then edited to retain common interest:
Scribe! Thanks for putting me on the TLC mailing list. I've passed through
Lexington 8 times, coming and going, in 2009. I always pull over and park across
from the Peckerwood Club, feeling, as the result of TLC comments, that I know
the place a little better each time.
Lexington is a
peach (of a town), and I mean that! I have some contacts at an outfit called
"Society for Commercial Archeology," and they were happy to receive pictures I
forwarded of both the Peckerwood Club, and the downtown "Maid-Rite." The SCA is
mainly interested in mid-century architecture, but I thought I'd mention
I am attempting
to sound slightly Southern. Lexington impressed me with that sensibility as soon
as I had my first conversations there. I would certainly enjoy meeting some
Lexingtonians on my next trip, even if my only role is to be the fond outsider,
observer and correspondent. My job, as I've indicated, takes me West to Colorado
frequently, where I have found, over the years, several worthy old houses that
I've caused to be restored. I do as much of the work as I can. These are never
typical dwellings, and include a railroad depot, and several early 20th century
seasonal cabins in Manitou Springs. I think that anyone on the road that covers
distances such as I do, has some favorite places to stop and Lexington is that
for me. However, there is much to consider when it comes to Lexington, and
consider I do!
First, of course, is the cohesiveness of the community, as
witnessed through your TLC. Then, there is the curious fact that unlike many
other places, Lexington has figured in most of the major historic developments
that have contributed to America as it is today.
Starting with the
Westward Expansion and the trail system that eventually became our first
National Roads, then followed the first infrastructure development of Rails and
River Systems. The Civil War, of course, and then the continued Westward
Expansion. The "Golden Age of Agriculture" followed, and is well represented in
the architecture that was built in Lexington at that time. Following WWI,
the coordination of highways by the Federal Government resulted in U.S. 24 as a
reincarnation of what the trail systems began a century earlier.
of all this can be found in Lexington, so it's not easy to designate it as
merely a rest stop. Of all these epochs, my favorite interest is anything having
to do with early automobile travel. Old roads, gas stations, eateries, etc.
Because these are the most recent, they often do not fare well. The designation
of Route 224 as a historic Auto Tour Route, is an important event, to me, for
that reason. U.S. 24, and its earlier alignment 224, is a fascinating road which
I rank as second, in the Midwest, only to Route 66. It has one of the highest
concentration of vintage roadside structures. It links some
architecturally rich cities, like Kansas City and Colorado Springs, and without
leaving 24, I can drive all the way from Hannibal, Mo. to my destination in
Manitou Springs. As you probably know, 24 was once called the "Ocean to Ocean /
Pikes Peak" highway. Along with the cities mentioned, it also links our major
rivers and our major mountains! I don't think it's far-fetched to think of
Lexington as a historic Crossroad in American History. You were at the center of
both the North-South conflict, as well as the East-West migration. There can
only be a steady increase of interest in Lexington and the road that goes
through it as time goes on.
This is a long-winded letter, I know.
However, if you've picked up on my enthusiasm, it has much to do with the humble
Peckerwood Club that so caught my attention, followed by your wonderful TLC. The
several conversations I've had with locals as I began my investigation cinched
the deal. I tell my friends and relatives that Lexington is an honest town with
fine people and loads of history. I tell them they will be pleased if they stop
and look around. I'll be holed up for the Winter in Burlington, but, will be
back on the road in the Springtime to complete the work in Colorado.
again from your Yankee friend in Burlington, Iowa, who gazes with affection
upon Lexington, the sweetest little town in Missouri! It's been a little while.
I'm busy, as always, trying to keep my enterprise afloat in Colorado. (My
interest in the Peckerwood Club) stems from the fact that I feel
it is a historically significant property, and a definite asset to 224's
the P.C. are both historic and vulnerable. The P.C. is a classic roadhouse and
would be significant to the overall success of 224 as a tourist draw. For that
matter, the poor, little, old gas station with the falling in roof would also be
an asset. I have learned the bitter truth that money, or the lack of it, will
determine what gets saved. I hear money is in short supply these days, so, it's
ironic that these two--veterans of the last depression, might not survive this
viability of 224 as a historic road, will rest heavily on all of its veteran
structures. The loss of any of those one-lane bridges, the older homes, the P.C.
and yes, that little gas station right outside Lexington, together create the
magic of that road. Oh where is that winning lottery ticket when we need
This is "Burlingtonzian Steve" again, an
admirer of all things Lexington. This is enhanced by the change of status of 224
from little used, little known, access road to full historic designation. I'm
about ready to resume my rebuilding of a 1914 structure in Manitou Springs CO,
and will be on the road soon. I often take pictures of historic, commercial
structures on my trips and plan to take a more northern Route this time. (I've
already photographed everything on Rt 24 and it remains a preferred route.)
In addition, and also
of great interest, is the following exchange:
Dear Ma'am - I just bought a Post
Card on eBay, in which a fellow by the name of Raymond Mischon was going through
flight training at Graham Air Base in May of 1955. His Post Card was sent
to Mischon's Food Market, 1119 Main Street, Lexington,
such a place?
It is just interesting to me. I collect
information on old WWII training bases, and Graham AB was Marianna AB during the
war. This note to his parents is just a by-product
which gives a personal touch to the Post Card. Thanks for any
blanks that you can fill in on this.
I don't mean to pry, and I hope Mr.
Mischon has had a happy life.
course I couldn't let that go unanswered. I told him, yes indeedy, there was,
and included as much as I could about the building. I was curious as to how he
knew to write to me.
It was pretty
easy to figure out most of the pieces of the puzzle, (even a street-level view
of Main Street in Lexington).... and how I found your name was from the TLC
newsletter, which popped up when I "googled" the keywords like "Mischon's" +
"Lexington, Missouri." It really is amazing what you can find, if you know how
to "ask" the right questions on the Internet!
I think the TLC
newsletter is great. I too come from a small town (Chipley, FL) growing up there
until I left to join the Army. As an aside, I did get a scholarship to
Wentworth, so this is only the second time I have ever heard of Lexington,
MO. (I chose West Point instead.) Your Newsletter is nice in that it
keeps a part of Lexington's past alive.
I'll say, and when our
webmaster can do it, we'll have the post card on our website.
a note from Jim O'Malley:
Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph newspaper (The Catholic Key) has an article
about the rededication and renovation of the Catholic Church in Lexington.
The article is well written and has a lot of Lexington history in it.
I thought you'd find it interesting and enjoy reading it.
Historical Association has a great opportunity and a great challenge. As you may
have heard, the Lexington R-V School Board Building (the old post office) is for
If we were to get it, with our present Museum building next door,
there would be much more room for exhibits, archives, storage, and other
activities. Space is limited now. However, there would also be considerable
expenses and volunteer labor required to refit, maintain, and keep it open for
the use of our members and visitors. A major fundraising effort might be
required since we are a private 501(c)(3) organization with limited
The Historical Association Board will be meeting on Wednesday,
April 7, at the Museum to decide, among other things, whether to bid on the
building and, if so, how much to bid. The School Board is requiring
that the building be preserved.
Our president, Mike
Kramer, has asked me to invite all members to a meeting at the Museum on
Tuesday, March 30, at 7 to discuss various ideas about how we might manage to
take on such a challenge, and various reasons why it might not be a good idea.
Please try to come.
While I have your attention, I've attached our
current membership list and sent this email to everyone on it with an email
address, plus to some prospective members. Please check the list carefully. If
you're on it, please check for accuracy. If you're not, but you are a life
member or have paid for 2010, please let me know and include your information.
If you're not a member or haven't renewed, please consider joining for $15
individual, $25 family, $100 business/sponsor; you may send the check (made out
to Lexington Historical Association) and info to me and I'll get them to the
proper persons, or bring it to one of the meetings. Whatever we do about the old
post office building, we need as many members as possible for us to succeed in
preserving the history of Lexington and making it available to the
Please try to attend the member meeting on March 30th and/or the
Board meeting on April 7. Also, please become an active member. Finally, if you
haven't been a docent at the Museum or helped with the archives before, and
would be able to help, please let me know. Thank you.
Museum Chairman and Director
1421 South St.
Lexington, MO 64067
As for the Auditorium, there is a committee
in place which has studied the building, determined costs and
devised plans for renovation. In the June election there will be a
referendum on the ballot to assess how much interest the public has in saving
the Auditorium. One suggestion is to add a very small tax to our annual city
property tax to cover the proposed cost of restoration and maintenance. No
decision on its future will be made by that vote, but public sentiment should be
garnered from the outcome.
I have had a request from the Committee to
ask for your memories of the Auditorium, special moments in your lives that took
place there, and your feeling toward our Municipal building. They would like to
use some of these memories in their campaign to save the building, so if
you would rather share them just with me, that's fine. Please tell me whether we
may use them in publicity.
A final note: it is with great personal
regret that I inform you of the passing of Mary Elizabeth White. She
embodied the best of Lexington, and her devotion to the town was
exceptional. Although 91 at the time of her death on April 7, she had gone out
to lunch the day before and had attended a concert that night. Many of us
visited with her then, and she had a wonderful time. She was the wife of Clifton
"Whitey" White, who died in January of 2005 and the mother of Elizabeth Anne
White '57 Kramer who died in December of 2004. The passing of Mary Liz
was a huge loss for Lexington.
As always I remain Your Devoted
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